A plane departed from London’s Stansted Airport en route to Florida but had to return to the Essex airport after a crew member noticed a startling issue during the flight: two windows were missing. This incident occurred on October 4 and involved a flight with 11 crew members and nine passengers. The problem was attributed to the use of high-powered lights during a filming event, as reported by The Independent.
According to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, this situation could have had even more serious consequences. Upon inspection, it was determined that two cabin windows were absent, and two others were improperly aligned. The empty spaces left by the missing windows were filled with scratch panes, which are plastic pieces meant to prevent passengers from touching the outer windows.
The aircraft was operated by Titan Airways and utilized by the luxury travel business TCS World Travel, based in the United States.
According to an initial report, the incident occurred the day after the plane was used for ground filming. Powerful lights were positioned near the aircraft to simulate a sunrise. These lights illuminated the right side of the plane for nearly five and a half hours before moving to the left side for four hours. The lights were supposed to be positioned no closer than 10 meters from the object they were illuminating, according to the AAIB. However, they were situated between six and nine meters from the damaged windows.
During the flight, all passengers were seated in the middle of the aircraft. After takeoff and the deactivation of the seatbelt sign, a crew member at the rear of the aircraft noticed that the seal around one of the windows was “flapping,” according to the AAIB. This information was then relayed to others, and the decision was made to return to the airport, where the plane landed safely. It is important to note that the plane had reached an altitude of 14,500 feet, and according to the report, “the cabin had remained pressurized normally.”
The government body also noted that the area around the missing or damaged windows showed that the foam used to secure them had either melted or was absent, and the windowpanes were “distorted and shrunken.”